MDA orders removal of cannabis website in Singapore

The Media Development Authority has asked the owners of a local cannabis awareness website to remove its contents in their entirety. (Getty Images)

The Media Development Authority (MDA) has asked the owners of a local cannabis awareness website to remove its contents in their entirety by Wednesday.

According to a Facebook page linked to the website, the group’s mission is to “raise awareness of the productive uses of cannabis” and other soft drugs in Singapore, where possession or consumption of cannabis is illegal.

It also aims to “educate the public on responsible drug use and to advocate for a recalibration of drug policy and a legal framework in which cannabis and other soft drugs have suppliers, distributors and consumers licensed, regulated and taxed for production, consumption and sale”.

In a statement released on Tuesday, the Central Narcotics Bureau (CNB) said it “had assessed the Singapore Cannabis Awareness website to be objectionable”.

It added that MDA has “directed the site owners to remove the website contents in their entirety by 19 February 2014”.

The bureau noted the website contained material that “promotes or tends to promote the use of a prohibited substance”.

CNB also said the site undermines Singapore's efforts in drug preventive education and erodes Singapore society's resilience against drug abuse.

“Singaporeans enjoy a safe and secure environment because of our firm stance against drugs and crime, and central to this is our ‘zero-tolerance’ approach against the drug menace,” added the bureau.

CNB also pointed out that claims about purported benefits of “medical cannabis” made by the site have not been sufficiently supported by clinical trials.

It added that anyone who has validated evidence of benefits of cannabis and wants to advocate it for medical use should “submit the scientific evidence to the appropriate health authorities, instead of promoting the use of a prohibited substance to the public”.

As of 7pm on Tuesday, the website appeared offline, but the Singapore Cannabis Awareness Facebook page was still live.

A Mike and a Shiwen, believed to be members of the cannabis advocate group, said on the Facebook page on Saturday that they had decided to temporarily unpublish the sgcannabis website “pending a total website review to ensure our website meets the Internet Code of Practice”.

They added that the domain will stay on and the website will be online again after the review.

In an update on Tuesday, the group also noted that censorship has done more to make them famous and boost publicity than any other action to date.

Under the Misuse of Drugs Act, the penalty for the possession or consumption of cannabis is up to 10 years of imprisonment or S$20,000 fine or both.

One may face the death penalty for illegal traffic, import or export of cannabis.

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